If you are growing frustrated with handling communication lessons learned from work from home, we may be able to help. Here are five suggestions for identifying team communication issues and ways to handle them.
1. Communication Styles Differ
Depending on how large your remote team is, you may find they have several preferences for communications. Some people respond well to emails while that mode of communication frustrates others. Some team members prefer instant messaging. The important communication goal is to understand your whole team's style and to create a system that fosters creativity, cooperation, and collaboration.
Successful remote workers exhibit inner direction and discipline, but they also need collaboration skills. You can help your team cooperate and succeed as collaborators by keeping a semblance of routine office hours. For those workers who want to live anywhere while they work for you (also known as digital nomads), it is necessary to maintain a set of hours each day during normal working hours that they must be available online when all other employees are online. This may mean that the nomad working on the French Riviera may need to be available during the wee small hours of his morning in order to coordinate with team members working in the headquarters in Manhattan, New York.
Successful teamwork in today's digital world requires a solid team manager who can create and run a successful remote team.
2. Encourage Work Flow
Your team's assignment flow is important in any office situation but it performs a critical function among remote workers. Online platforms, some free and some paid, help businesses to:
- Facilitate communications through the use of unified communications (like Microsoft's Teams platform),
- Track deadlines,
- Manage tasks, and
- Provide support to remote workers.
Interestingly, surveys of remote workers indicate that the core challenge for them is communication/collaboration while they believe they are more productive working remotely than they were in the office.
3. Promote your Team's Social Fabric
Working remotely can tear at the social fabric of a distance team. Ordinarily, when staff commute to work each day at the same office, they develop camaraderie and a belief in the culture of the firm.
It's difficult to maintain that team spirit when the team is divided and each member works alone. That means it's even more important to continue modes of communication such as:
- Distribution of company newsletters that promote winning projects by remote workers;
- Virtual team social events like a 5-mile run in return for contributions to charities chosen by employees, clothing drives, or other charitable events;
- Encouraging the team's sharing of family photos, vacation plans, and major personal life events like marriages, births, etc.
These are all part and parcel of keeping remote workers emotionally connected to their work and to the company. When a company's culture and work coincide with its employees' personal belief systems and positive emotional responses, the bond strengthens. For example, millennials prefer work that promotes societal benefits, so they often match nicely with businesses that promote sustainability in their products. Keeping those remote workers apprised of the company's latest sustainable products will help strengthen the emotional attachment to the work they do.
4. Assess Your Team's Engagement
Judging how engaged your team is may prove difficult. Hogan Assessments is an Oklahoma-based business that helps firms make personality assessments and start leadership programs. Hogan recently conducted a survey of mid-level managers from European businesses both mid-size and enterprise. The survey shows that 60% of survey participants believed that remote work is a challenge. It also found that 86% of the survey participants were engaged with their company and 42% declared they are very engaged. According to the Hogan report, high rates of employee engagement relates directly to leadership that is effective at inspiring and leading a pumped-up team.
5. Allow Personality to Shine
The COVID-19 pandemic was a test of leadership for companies that found suddenly themselves forced to shift to remote workers for all but essential employees. The satisfaction employees show with their organization's moves to remote working is an indication that leaders lived up to employee expectations that the pandemic was a time to reach out with support in a business sense but also in a personal sense.
Hogan's 30 years of experience in the field led them to develop what they call the value chain:
- Personality propels leadership;
- Leadership powers employee engagement;
- Employee engagement steers organizational success.
It's a cycle that you want to repeat: Personality impacts how leaders interact with employees and how employee team members interrelate. Therefore, the leadership's personality influences company culture which, in turn, directs the energy toward more worker engagement and increased organizational success.
According to Upwork's Future of Workforce Pulse Report released in December 2020, a snapshot of the COVID-19 pandemic after nine months indicates that 41.8% of the American workforce works fully remote. In addition, managers participating in the report expect that a large share of those workers will continue to work remotely in 2021 and the near future. Coming to terms with the communications issues involved with remote workers is not a choice; it is an essential element of success.
To learn more about team collaboration and communication for your organization, please click on the Microsoft Teams logo below for a free consultation from CallTower: